I believe that if you want to stop feeling depressed, you’ve got to laugh. Science tells us why laughing is so good for our mental health.
I sat in my bed, day after day, watching Asian dramas on Netflix. I didn’t care about doing my job. I didn’t care about achieving my goals. All I wanted to do was sleep and waste my time with mindless entertainment.
Have you ever felt this way? If so, it’s a good bet you were feeling depressed.
In my first post on How to Stop Being Depressed–Part 1, I talked about clinical depression and situational depression.
In this series, I am addressing situational depression and sharing strategies to employ when you find yourself in the inevitable situation of feeling depressed due to an unfortunate life event. However, many of the strategies I will highlight will also benefit those dealing with clinical depression.
During my latest bout of depression, our family went out to dinner. My husband was switching jobs and wanted to celebrate the end of his old job and the start of his new job.
To make a long story short, we were thwarted at every turn just trying to get a hamburger. Three restaurants and two hours later, we finally got our food–except for my husband, because they had forgotten to make his hamburger. (They apologized and gave us his meal free, plus a dessert!)
After so long, first arriving at a restaurant with a line around the block for the drive-through, then another that was closed, then being misdirected by the GPS to a third, then waiting so long for our food, then having my husband’s dinner forgotten (and my husband saying he just wanted to go home and cry) everything started to be really…funny.
I laughed and laughed at dinner as the whole family talked (and our kids made fun of us, which is their favorite past time).
Returning home that night, I felt…amazing. It was like I’d just had a fantastic session of therapy, but all I did was laugh.
Could laughter be a strategy to help combat depression?
Absolutely. Here are just a few of the things laughter does for your body and brain: (Source: The Mayo Clinic)
- Increases oxygen to your heart, lungs, and muscles
- Releases endorphins
- Aids muscle relaxation
- Improves your immune system
- Relieves pain
- Helps you cope with difficult situations
- Helps you connect with other people
- Can lessen depression and anxiety
Sounds pretty amazing, right? Another bonus is that laughter even improves your short-term memory! (Here’s an article about a study that demonstrated this great effect).
Studies have shown that even simulated laughter (basically, forcing yourself to “fake laugh”) is beneficial. Those fake laughs often turn into real laughs. (Because fake laughing sounds ridiculous, and that’s funny).
Did you know there’s such a thing as “laughter yoga” and “laughter meditation?” Me neither, but they sound amazing!
Another study showed that laughter can add up to eight years to your life, as well as give you a 30% better chance of survival if you have a severe illness or disease.
Here’s another great article called “Laughter is the Best Medicine.”
So if you’re feeling depressed, it’s time to start laughing. I know it’s the last thing you feel like doing. But it’s one of the best things you can do for your physical and mental health. Even if you’re sitting in bed, feeling lethargic and bored, say out loud, “Ho ho ho. Woe is me.” It just might make you laugh.
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